Saturday, 30 May 2015

Saturday, May 23rd, 2015

Saturday, May 23rd, 2015
Vaughan/Toronto

23 Years


It’s been 23 years of the annual astha prahar in Toronto.  Perhaps, it is one of the longest running 24 hour chanting sessions in North America.  This program held at the Thakur Centre was first initiated by a sweet man by the name Raja Sarangi.  We remember him lovingly as the man born and raised in Orissa, and who had a passion to duplicate in Canada a practice he had embraced close to his heart as a boy. 

And here’s what he taught us.  You set up a shrine in the middle of a field, or in the middle of an indoor community hall, and after adorning it with pictures and icons of Krishna and Chaitanya, you now have a station around which you circumambulate while engaged in kirtan.  It’s a tradition in Bengal and the surrounding areas. 

The people here at the Thakur Centre, mostly hail from Bengal, and they are very much loyal and dedicated to this annual kirtan cause.  I was blessed to kick start the program this year, as usual.  Groups who are practiced at kirtan come in throughout the day when it’s their slot, usually a one or two hour length.  I see this as the ultimate goodwill activity.  A sound which is sacred sends positive bliss chemicals into the atmosphere. 

This was also the case at Christie Pitts Park when after the march against Monsanto, a residual trickle of people engaged in kirtan in the park.  It was a totally unplugged sound vibration.  No drums, no harmonium, no cymbals were available, nor were they necessary.  Just a happy sound of kirtan from the voice, and the clap of the hands permeated through the ether. 

It’s the subtle things that can often time impact the gross things. 

May the Source be with you!

12 km

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

Friday, May 22nd, 2015
Toronto, Ontario

Responses Are Up


It was a consecutive day number four for chanting in the public.  Our venue was Bloor Street West, to Christie Pitts Park, and back.  Wow!  What positive responses! 

A luxury bus driver stepped out of his vehicle as we moved by.  He was tossing his full length hair back, and remarked about the chanting, “I love it.”  At the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) a Jamaican Rasta man with dreads, was playing on his steel band drum.  He looked a little glum, head down and playing slow.  Our little kirtan party got to either side of him and perked him up.  He then came up with a tune that we were encouraged to sing to.  It worked out alright. 

By the time we reached Christie Pitts Park, the grass looked very inviting.  We sat down and formed our circle and chanted.  One by one, park browsers came to sit with us, expanding our circle of sound.  There was Mario, Marnie, and Agatar.  And more joined in on the fun.  And as our two drummers, Eklavya and Devala, made a visit to the bladder room, we learned from Marnie that the very park we were sitting at would be the venue for the next day’s rendezvous for a protest march against Monsanto.

One of the girls asked Marnie, “What’s Monsanto?”

“Basically, the Devil visiting us,” said Marnie most confidently. 

Strong statement.  The truth can be spoken of in sometimes unkind words. 

May the Source be with you!


7 km

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

Thursday, May 21st, 2015
Toronto, Ontario

Take it Like a Monk


It used to be that people in the public would see one of us and say, “Hey, I haven’t seen you guys in 30 years.”  Today, as our group was chanting along on John Street, an excited wiry and white haired man remarked, “I haven’t seen you guys in 40 years.”  It came to mind that time is passing by quickly, and secondly, that this is a confirmation that our effort to explore different parts of the city was a good experiment.  It’s working, people are seeing us again.  The need to be more visible as Krishna monks was obvious. 

I kept dwelling on the concept of passage of time.  A good friend, just the other day, spoke of another friend, and said this about him, “When I saw him he was walking with a cane.   I was shocked how old he suddenly had become.  He had age marks on his face.”  Then I interjected, and due to not hearing properly, almost as if I’m getting to the age of hard of hearing. 

“What did you say?  He’s got Aids marks on his face?”

“No!”  I was corrected, “AGE marks.”

“We’re all getting older,” was my thought, “and it is happening fast.”  I have these mental glimpses of myself on the streets of Toronto when I was a young whipper snapper of sorts, doing the same thing, chanting on the streets.  What comes to mind is a message of the Gita, wherein a verse implies the movement of the soul recycling itself rather swiftly.  “As the embodied soul continually passes in this body from boyhood, to adulthood, to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death.  A mature person is not bewildered by such a change.”

By this method, youth is followed by old age, so what is there to worry about?  We can look at aging from a mature perspective.  We must learn to take it like a ma…  monk. 

May the Source be with you!


7 km

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015
Toronto, Ontario

How You Know You’re Human


With young Devala, a mridanga drum teacher, we took to a trail’s walk.  With a few more monks, and one nun, we took to the corporate tourist and municipal area of the city, including, perhaps for the first time, Church Street, which is the established gay community.  Gradually, we are covering the downtown core in areas where people just haven’t seen Krishna monks for a while.  This second installment of walking was featured with drums and karatalas (hand cymbals), and our voices, of course. 

Back at home base in the evening, I was sitting in the main office when a smartly dressed young fellow walked into our building.  I greeted him.  We exchanged names.  I asked where he’s from and he answered that he’s from Bangladesh and identified himself as coming from a Muslim background.  We sat down and he admitted to coming for the first time.  He had loads of questions. 

I volunteered to say that Bangladesh was a part of India not so long ago.

“Oh yes,” he said, “It got its independence in ’71.”

We continued.  “At one time, that whole section of the globe practiced a Vedic culture.” 

He had never heard of the Vedas from India.  Then we jumped over into the topic of the supernatural.  He asked what is our take on ghosts?

“Disembodied beings, souls who are frustrated for not having a body through which to have sensory experience.  In fact, we are all travelling through bodies.  Our soul transmigrates, it sometimes becomes suspended.”

“As in purgatory?” he asked.

“Yes, as a ghost, or in a place like pitri-loka, or, purgatory.”  We went on and on.  He seemed fascinated with this explanation and more.  I introduced him to our visiting Lithuanian monk.  It was there that the newcomer had spent his last minutes at our ashram.  He then left with many thoughts on his mind.  Yes, there are many things to think about, and that’s what makes us human.

May the Source be with you!


 9 km

Tuesday, May 19th, 201

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015
Toronto, Ontario

The Fruit of Your Endeavour


The discussion of today based on the story of Subhari Muni was interesting.  Lead by Bhakti Swarup Chaitanya Swami, a visiting monk from Lithuania, our discussion detailed the plight of the muni, who meditated while submerged in water.  Right in front of him, two fish started mating, and this agitated the yogi to the point where he left the water and gave up his vows.  It sounded like he had a weak mind.

The story did remind me of a W.C. Fields response when someone asked him if he would like a glass of water.  He refused the offer, saying that he doesn’t take water because fish copulate in it.  This I relayed to the group in our discussion, they had a good laugh. 

The morning passed. 

We then all planned for the afternoon, a chanting party at Kensington Market, a sort of bohemian neighbourhood with rather receptive people.  Cafes, health shop, vintage clothing stores such as The Eye of Shiva, make this region attractive.  A djembe player was pounding away on the street.  He looked as if he could use some musical accompaniment.  He actually looked rather sad.  Our giving him support worked in mutual terms.  You could now feel his heart leap in joy.  A couple had joined him, friends I guess, and then they showed up along with three other graffiti artist friends, at our temple’s Tuesday Night Sangha.  They sat, listened to the Lithuanian monk, and ate. 

It is so much a fulfilling feeling when the fruits of your effort become manifest.  To see someone coming to make even a tiny endeavour to make spiritual progress is most heartwarming.  From laughter to mental peace, Tuesday, May 19th, 2015, became a day of absolute beauty.

May the Source be with you!


5 km

Monday, May 18th, 2015

Monday, May 18th, 2015
Toronto, Ontario

Are You Real?


It’s a Canadian holiday in honour of Queen Victoria.  During her reign, this British colony became a nation unto itself.  Young men, in particular, usually send off fireworks into the evening sky.  It’s questionable how much sentiment behind this is patriotic, but many people go out for the blast. 

For Eklavya and I, the quiet of the day became opportune for a walk, and my chance to show him choice trails.  We were not the only folk that ventured along Mud Creek, hundreds were out to see green, to capture May’s scent, and do what the human body likes to do.  The two of us ambled along one ravine, and then embarked upon a second.  We wanted to descend on one particular stairs, but which was in disrepair, and hence, the city put a barrier at the entrance.  We were a trite disappointed.  We stood there.

Luckily, a neighbouring woman happened to be walking by, and so I asked, “What’s happening?  Can’t we go down?”  With a joyous demeanor, she said, “Don’t worry, the neighbours laid out some tree stumps so you can leap over the barrier.  We want our kids to have access and fun and not wait for the city to come and fix it.”  We thanked her.  We proceeded forwarded and went on in conversation to do with future mission projects, and all the while observing nature’s esthetics.  Eka even took advantage of the season’s wild mustards growing along the way, and filling his chaddar (monk’s shawl) with the fragrant and tasty greens.  As monks we felt we were doing monastic things such as taking to the simple art of walking, immersed in spiritual topics while foraging a bit in the forest.  We thought ourselves to be ‘real’.  And then we diverted to an earlier, brief encounter we had in the morning, in our thoughts.  As we had detrained from a trip beginning from Windsor, outside the train terminal a street beggar who had seen us asked Eka and I, “Are you real monks?  Cuz they’re not,” pointing to the two Buddhist monks, indicating that they were panhandling.  Perhaps he was envious because their collections were doing good.  Now, I’m not making judgment regarding those monks, but what did come to our attention was a question, “Are you genuine?  Are you sincere?  Are you doing from the heart?”

That was of value. 

May the Source be with you!


9 km

Sunday, May 17th, 2015

Sunday, May 17th, 2015
Detroit, Michigan

Celebration for the 50th


After a good sleep and a good walk, and then a trip to the Fisher Mansion, run and owned by members of Iskcon, darshan (viewing of the deities of Krishna) became the first segment of our devotions in this exquisite building.  And what was once the ballroom, now a temple room for Krishna, there we chanted and discussed from the book, Bhagavatam, Canto 5, the main topic being, “How does one please the Supreme when there are varying ideas on how to approach Him?  Is there only one standard approach?”

Answer:  No!  One should capture in essence and in practice the principal of unity and diversity. 

The visit to the Fisher Mansion was completed with a breakfast of something called dokla, kitchery and mango milk.  Yummy!  I sat next to David Hendrix, yes, apparently he’s related to Jimmy. 

After, I was driven to Farmington by Prithu, a local hair salonist, along with Eklavya.  Here, again, we opened to the pages of the book, Bhagavatam, this time, Canto 10.  Being that there were a good number of children inside the building, I thought, “Let them sit in front near me.  I’ll read the passage, quiz them, get them involved.”  The technique here is that automatically, parents get captivated as well.  One of the lessons learned from the passage is that the Creator definitely stages dramas on a full universal scale.  Each and every one of us plays a role in the cosmic performance. 

As usual, in a bhakti setting, there’s always food, prasadam.  Yummy! 

The third activity of the day was a visit by folks to Prithu’s home where I was staying.  A monk by the name of Bhakti Ashramam came to join us and engaged with us in song and in reading on the humble beginnings of kirtan to the western world.  In 1965/66 the process of kirtan was introduced by Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.  That makes 50 years.  We need to celebrate this in a grand way with music, song, dance, and food.  In our own modest way, in a little corner of Detroit, we did dine tonight in celebration (with eggless rolls). 

That is three meals for the day.  The first – Indian, the second – Italian, the third – Chinese.  All were yummy.  May the whole world celebrate!

May the Source be with you!

7 km

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015
Toronto, Ontario

The Fruit of Your Endeavour


The discussion of today based on the story of Subhari Muni was interesting.  Lead by Bhakti Swarup Chaitanya Swami, a visiting monk from Lithuania, our discussion detailed the plight of the muni, who meditated while submerged in water.  Right in front of him, two fish started mating, and this agitated the yogi to the point where he left the water and gave up his vows.  It sounded like he had a weak mind.

The story did remind me of a W.C. Fields response when someone asked him if he would like a glass of water.  He refused the offer, saying that he doesn’t take water because fish copulate in it.  This I relayed to the group in our discussion, they had a good laugh. 

The morning passed. 

We then all planned for the afternoon, a chanting party at Kensington Market, a sort of bohemian neighbourhood with rather receptive people.  Cafes, health shop, vintage clothing stores such as The Eye of Shiva, make this region attractive.  A djembe player was pounding away on the street.  He looked as if he could use some musical accompaniment.  He actually looked rather sad.  Our giving him support worked in mutual terms.  You could now feel his heart leap in joy.  A couple had joined him, friends I guess, and then they showed up along with three other graffiti artist friends, at our temple’s Tuesday Night Sangha.  They sat, listened to the Lithuanian monk, and ate. 

It is so much a fulfilling feeling when the fruits of your effort become manifest.  To see someone coming to make even a tiny endeavour to make spiritual progress is most heartwarming.  From laughter to mental peace, Tuesday, May 19th, 2015, became a day of absolute beauty.

May the Source be with you!


5 km

Mon, May 18th 2015


Monday, May 18th, 2015
Toronto, Ontario

Are You Real?


It’s a Canadian holiday in honour of Queen Victoria.  During her reign, this British colony became a nation unto itself.  Young men, in particular, usually send off fireworks into the evening sky.  It’s questionable how much sentiment behind this is patriotic, but many people go out for the blast. 

For Eklavya and I, the quiet of the day became opportune for a walk, and my chance to show him choice trails.  We were not the only folk that ventured along Mud Creek, hundreds were out to see green, to capture May’s scent, and do what the human body likes to do.  The two of us ambled along one ravine, and then embarked upon a second.  We wanted to descend on one particular stairs, but which was in disrepair, and hence, the city put a barrier at the entrance.  We were a trite disappointed.  We stood there.

Luckily, a neighbouring woman happened to be walking by, and so I asked, “What’s happening?  Can’t we go down?”  With a joyous demeanor, she said, “Don’t worry, the neighbours laid out some tree stumps so you can leap over the barrier.  We want our kids to have access and fun and not wait for the city to come and fix it.”  We thanked her.  We proceeded forwarded and went on in conversation to do with future mission projects, and all the while observing nature’s esthetics.  Eka even took advantage of the season’s wild mustards growing along the way, and filling his chaddar (monk’s shawl) with the fragrant and tasty greens.  As monks we felt we were doing monastic things such as taking to the simple art of walking, immersed in spiritual topics while foraging a bit in the forest.  We thought ourselves to be ‘real’.  And then we diverted to an earlier, brief encounter we had in the morning, in our thoughts.  As we had detrained from a trip beginning from Windsor, outside the train terminal a street beggar who had seen us asked Eka and I, “Are you real monks?  Cuz they’re not,” pointing to the two Buddhist monks, indicating that they were panhandling.  Perhaps he was envious because their collections were doing good.  Now, I’m not making judgment regarding those monks, but what did come to our attention was a question, “Are you genuine?  Are you sincere?  Are you doing from the heart?”

That was of value. 

May the Source be with you!


9 km



Sunday, May 17th, 2015

Sunday, May 17th, 2015
Detroit, Michigan

Celebration for the 50th


After a good sleep and a good walk, and then a trip to the Fisher Mansion, run and owned by members of Iskcon, darshan (viewing of the deities of Krishna) became the first segment of our devotions in this exquisite building.  And what was once the ballroom, now a temple room for Krishna, there we chanted and discussed from the book, Bhagavatam, Canto 5, the main topic being, “How does one please the Supreme when there are varying ideas on how to approach Him?  Is there only one standard approach?”

Answer:  No!  One should capture in essence and in practice the principal of unity and diversity. 

The visit to the Fisher Mansion was completed with a breakfast of something called dokla, kitchery and mango milk.  Yummy!  I sat next to David Hendrix, yes, apparently he’s related to Jimmy. 

After, I was driven to Farmington by Prithu, a local hair salonist, along with Eklavya.  Here, again, we opened to the pages of the book, Bhagavatam, this time, Canto 10.  Being that there were a good number of children inside the building, I thought, “Let them sit in front near me.  I’ll read the passage, quiz them, get them involved.”  The technique here is that automatically, parents get captivated as well.  One of the lessons learned from the passage is that the Creator definitely stages dramas on a full universal scale.  Each and every one of us plays a role in the cosmic performance. 

As usual, in a bhakti setting, there’s always food, prasadam.  Yummy! 

The third activity of the day was a visit by folks to Prithu’s home where I was staying.  A monk by the name of Bhakti Ashramam came to join us and engaged with us in song and in reading on the humble beginnings of kirtan to the western world.  In 1965/66 the process of kirtan was introduced by Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.  That makes 50 years.  We need to celebrate this in a grand way with music, song, dance, and food.  In our own modest way, in a little corner of Detroit, we did dine tonight in celebration (with eggless rolls). 

That is three meals for the day.  The first – Indian, the second – Italian, the third – Chinese.  All were yummy.  May the whole world celebrate!

May the Source be with you!

7 km

Saturday, May 9th, 2015


Saturday, May 9th, 2015
Moundsville, West Virginia

I Sat With Sally


We walked to the river, about 20 of us, over the dirt and gravel road.  The honeysuckles were tossing their fragrance.  Apurva, the well-known cook who was with us, yanked out some garlic mustard for his lunch, lentil dhal soup.  Pandu, who is from Pennsylvania, and was also with us, had identified this unique plant years ago, and educated me on it.  Almost every year as a regular feature of spring, I would point out this plant to others, pick the leaf or flower, pinch it between my fingers, and share its fragrance with others. 

Well, we made it to the river at the valley’s bottom, and then turned about face for the incremental climb.  I noted places of erosion, nature’s changing face.  And those erosions were not there the year before. 

The bright spots of the day was this walk with comrades, men and women from as far south as Mexico and Florida, and as far north as Canada.  I will not forget Jaya Adwaita Swami’s class on the need to view ourselves more as servants and less as masters.  Yes, I enjoyed Apurva’s dhal of fresh local hand plucked greens.  Above all, I met Sally.  Yes, Sally, the lady I excerpted yesterday at my reading at picnic time. 

A coincidence?  Never!  God does live. 

Myself and three others sat down with Sally, whose surname is Agarwal.  She’s now in her 80’s and she was telling us all about when Swamiji, Prabhupada, first came to America.  It was she who officially sponsored the swami in 1965, and not her husband, Gopal, who himself was not an American citizen.  She told us when she signed the sponsorship letter, and then sent it off, she had the feeling that nothing would ever come of it.  It turns out that her assumption was wrong, Swamiji did show up at the bus terminal, came to her home and stayed in Butler, Pennsylvania for one month before embarking upon a worldwide successful mission.  She said she was in tears when he left for New York. 

One and a half hours with Sally passed by and we heard all about her first meeting Gopal, and Indian man, who came to white middle class America.  She spoke about her four children who all became very successful.  She is a darling of a lady.  I feel like she’s my mother.

May the Source be with you!

4 km

Fri, May 8th 2015

Friday, May 8th, 2015
USA/West Virginia

This Reading Riding But Not Walking

The customs people at the US border were pleasant enough.  Our bus from Parkinson’s bus company aside from one side of the AC being not in operation.  It got a bit stifling at times during this unusual 30 degree Celsius weather for this time of year.  It was the great company that I had that compensated for the lack of cool, breathable air, on this long ride. 

My highlight on the bus ride which held 30 passengers was reading to the group at picnic time.  I had pulled out of my bag the book, ‘Prabhupada’, and being that not all passengers, let’s say, pilgrims, knew too much about this sadhu (holy man), I thought to read and inform and even delight the group.  They were enjoying samosas and wraps with hummus.  The author, Satsvarupa Goswami, shows as a subtitle to the book, ‘He Built a House in Which the Whole World Could Live’.  Now that it’s fifty years since this sadhu, our guru, Prabhupada, first came to the US with his mission, I thought it appropriate to read a section where Sally Agarwal recalls hosting him in her home town of Butler, Pennsylvania.

The excerpt from Sally:

“Our fun was to show him what we knew of America, and he had never seen such things.  It was such fun to take him to the supermarket.  He loved opening the package of okra, or frozen beans, and he didn’t have to clean them and cut them and do all those things.  He opened the freezer every day and just choose his items.  It was fun to watch him.  He sat on the couch while I swept with the vacuum cleaner, and he was so interested in that, and we talked for a long time about that.  So every day, he’d have this big feast (cooked) and everything, was great fun.”

May the Source be with you!

1 km

Thu, May 7th 2015

Thursday, May 7th, 2015
Toronto, Ontario

Hard To Come By


A busy day it was, and I’m happy, all except for the fact that I put not one kilometre under my feet by 9:30 PM.  So on with the Crocs I go to make the day complete.  It was south on Yonge and west on lively Bloor Street that I explored.  Bloor was vibrant, contented people spilled out of one church where a symphony had just played.  My guess is that it could have been Bach.  I also passed by this one hall that’s frequented by heavy metal, grunge, and punk rock bands.  It was there that three mildly toxiced young folks took a fancy to my dhoti and kurta.  “Can we get a picture taken with you?”  And so, we proceeded with pleasure. 

It was on Bloor, the north side, that I was trekking and fingering on my beads, when I walked by a cafĂ©/pub, when I met someone I knew.  People were sipping and eating at whatever.  At this one particular eatery, up popped a young man who recognized me.  He’s Asian by looks, part Filipino I believe. “Hey, Maharaja, remember me?”  I looked at him, and indeed, I did remember. 

Here’s a guy who played Dhanvantari, the god of ancient medicine, in one of my theatrical productions.  I was moved.  We first met in the bus en route to Montreal some 15 years ago.  He was on his way to a retreat with The Art of Living folks, and I was bound for the Hare Krishna temple on Pie Neuf Boulevard.  We made friends at that point.  He had this look of Buddha, knew martial arts, and I thought I could use him in a part.  Low and behold, he came to India with me, and played the role of the Ayurveda herbal god, in the drama, churning the ocean.  He did splendid. 

While talking, he refused to sit down, although I insisted.  I really respect the respect demonstrated in retrospect.  From what I can see, his folks molded him well.  I’m not going to judge him on what he was consuming at the pub, it just didn’t look like Ayurveda herbal soups.  Dhanvantari might not approve, but that’s beside the point.  This young man is a good man, they’re hard to come by.  He made my walk this evening, worth it.

May the Source be with you!

7 km

Saturday, May 16th, 2015

Saturday, May 16th, 2015            
Detroit, Michigan

The Detroit Walk


“No devices, no food, no money, no vehicle, rather depend on Krishna” was the policy set by Jambavan who set the rules for his fourth walk across Detroit.  He mentioned that I inspired him on this annual trek.  This time, this year, I decided to give support and accompany him, so did 16 other enthusiasts who, like troupers, stuck it out for the long haul.

The long haul was not so long, really but a considerable distance when you were dealing with mostly first timers.  To what was calculated to be about 12 miles or 20 kilometres was the stretch taken from Eastpointe and Gratiot going southbound with some interesting detours and ending at the playgrounds on Belle Island.  Along the way on Gratiot (originally a French word which locals horrendously pronounce as “Grash-it”) we observed some good omens.  We even spotted a pretty and wild pheasant.  Above all, people were very sweet, receptive, kind and happy to see some “whites” in exotic cloths taking humbly to the road on foot in their neighbourhood.

Well, most people were nice. 

This venture we confirmed is a pilgrimage and Jambavan saw to it that his very own stomping grounds were places that we would get acquainted with.  He pointed to the Faygo factory of soft drinks (exclusively born in Michigan) and the “Better Made Potato Chip Company” also fabulously a Detroit origined family business.  On the more spiritual catholic side, we visited Bishop Carl at the gorgeous St. Anthony Church.  He had this “George Clooney air about him” said Jambavan.  There was the Capucin Monk, Brother Joseph at the Solamus Kasey Center who received and gave hugs.  The reception at the Assumption Church and a grotto of Mary was a harsh one.  Quite harsh.

For detours, we veered off to neighbourhoods known for their miles upon miles of dilapidated, gutted out and in some cases, burned down homes.  This was like I had never seen before.  Like a war zone.

On the bright side, those streets were the most serene and green nature is doing a make / take over.  And the artistic Heidleburg Project was a real treat for the eyes – something that we stumbled upon.  There was also a rotund mama who was canvassing for us to put our signature on her house for a dollar.  Also a woman on drugs and in pink propositioned two of our men as we were walking.  All in all, it was an adventure, especially when the rain poured down and we took shelter of an abandoned home, toilet removed and all and there we chanted in a joyous kirtan.

May the source be with you!


22 km

Friday, May 15th, 2015

Friday, May 15th, 2015 
Birmingham, Michigan

Time


At the Krishna House, I was asked to speak from the Bhagavatam verse 1.8.28.  There is merit to sharing words of wisdom, so I would then like to extract from its purport the following: “It is no use saying that we do not know why and for what we are suffering.  We may forget the misdeed for which we may suffer at this present moment.  We must remember that Paramatma (Supreme Soul) is our constant companion.  And therefore, He knows everything, past, present and future.  And because the Paramatma feature of Sri Krishna destines all actions and reactions, He is the supreme controller also.  Without His sanction, not a blade of grass can move.  The living beings are given as much freedom as they deserve, and misuse of that freedom is the cause of suffering…  Everyone here wants to lord it over material nature, and thus everyone creates his own destiny under the supervision of the Supreme Lord.  He is all pervading and therefore, He can see everyone’s activities.  And because the Lord has no beginning or end, He is known also as the eternal time, Kala.

Some other comments on the topic of kala (time) based on the teachings and practices of our guru, Srila Prabhupada are as follows: 

Time is the most powerful representation of God in the material sphere. 

We may be governed by the movements of the sun and the moon, but it is the Supreme who moves them. 

You can’t buy back a moment of time past with tons of gold. (Chanikya) 

“Time and tide wait for no man.”

Also we might consider this beautiful phrase regarding the process of nature “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery, today is a gift.”

I would like to thank Kelly for her hospitality and her home for a memorable sangha in the evening.

May the Source be with you!


11 km

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Thursday, May 14th, 2015                           
Cleveland/Toledo/Michigan

Switching Cities and States


From Cleveland, Eklavya and I took a bus en route to Ann Arbor, Michigan.

There was a stopover in Toledo, a first visit for me, to this city.  Like most American cities, it is all about cars.  You hardly see pedestrians.  While here, I also wondered why, and even as we grew up as kids, people say, “Holy Toledo” to express surprise.  I believe that the phrase was also blurted out by Robin to Batman.  From what I could gather it has origins from around the turn of the 19th to the 20th century and was meant to be a sarcastic remark – Whatever!

At the bus station, we met Pranav, a 26 year old student from Gujarat, India, going to school at the University of Buffalo.  Nice guy.  Which is typical of Indian students.  Quiet.  Dutiful.  Family and studies means a lot to such individuals.  I admire that.

I offered my services.  I said, “Buffalo is close to Toronto where I live just over the border.   We can visit and do some kirtan with your friends.’  I handed him the small book, ‘Krishna:  The Reservoir of Pleasure’ for keeps.  Also, another person from Brooklyn was sitting a depot was making favorable remarks about the robes.  Sorry, but Eklavya and I had trouble discerning the gender.  This spirit soul was keen to learn and become a recipient of this same informative book. 

Destiny had it that I once again found myself Ypsilanti for a small Thursday evening gathering at the Krishna house.  This time the casual presentation was shared by Eklavya.  People are always curious to know how one gets involved in monastic life and in Krishna consciousness.  Eklavya gave a thorough description of his gradual entry into the lifestyle.  Very human and very intriguing was his explanation.

May the Source be with you!

5 km

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015      
Canton and Cleveland, Ohio

Herb Awareness


Atmarama is the name of the person who hosted us in his home in Canton.  He treated Eklavya and myself to nearby park, McKinley Park.  It is named after one of the former presidents of the USA.  McKinley hails from this small city and is also memorialized here at a monument erected some time after his assassination which was in 1901.  Atmarama also informed us that Canton is the place where the Hover Vacuum Cleaner was invented.

It was certainly an herbal walk that we embarked upon as much as it was a history lesson.  Along the way, we spotted greens that we knew, or chewed on, or dreamed of foraging for the next wild forestry meal.  This is certainly the time of the year for this kind of thing. 

Once reaching the city of Cleveland (after the Canton venture), I invested in a short second walk with Jatayu, a devotee who deals with autistic kids.  The metro parks is a place where we have tread before.  Herbs was the fascination once again.  Some of with are similar to, or different from, the ones in Canton.  We were not the only ones to see God’s hand at work here in the form of plants.  Other forest lovers were also out and about.

One fellow, a jogger, on this up and down train, loves Jesus.  He stopped and insisted on us reading the book of John.  We explained that we both had a Christian upbringing.  But what we had to say, fell on deaf ears.  We were to listen to him and so we patiently heard him out.  A one way street conversation it was.  We did give, “the last word” so to speak, before moving on.  “Hare Krishna”.

Our closure to the day happened in the evening at the home of Don Foose (Dayal Nitai).  The kirtan we had was arousing.  It felt like all involved were like herbs exploding out of the ground at springtime.  Incidentally, Doyal had just come out with a beautiful hard book, ‘Raw Life’ by Kung-Foose Publishing .   Recipes and the story of his life are featured.  There is no mystery here about his being a Krishna consciousness person.

May the Source be with you!

6 km

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015             
Hudson Ohio

Never Forget


Hawking Hills had our attention for the morning, when Akhila, Eklavya and I explored Ash Falls and the Old Man’s Cave.  Who wouldn’t be intrigued by a cave where an old hermit type guy spent years in a hole.  And who wouldn’t want to out under a massive rock awning with acoustics so fine that concerts used to record and staged under this beautiful and natural canopy. 

Here’s how the story goes about the hermit, who lived in a cave in this very insular area in the depths of an Ohio gorge.  A plaque reads, “Old man caves derived its name from a hermit named Richard Rowe who lived in the recessed cave of the gorge.  His family moved to the Ohio River valley around 1796 from the Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee to establish a trading post.  He and his two hound dogs traveled through Ohio alone the Scioto River in search of game.  On a side trip up Salt Creek, he found the Hawking Hills region.  Richard, and his hounds, lived out the rest of their lives here in the cave.”

As the three of us roamed this area, we could imagine ourselves spending days here, if not years.  Of course, at the end of the 18th century, it was probably do-able.  But not today.  Privacy would be interrupted with tourists milling through.

For a contrast to such of hermit dreaming, we had been invited to the home of Hari, an engineer from India, whose wife and two sons enjoy life in an upscale neighborhood in Hudson.  People came over to hear kirtan and a talk.  I took the opportunity to speak on our guru, Srila Prabhupada and his achievements in the world.

People do have a choice whether to live in a mansion, or a cave.  But they should never forget the spiritual component.

May the Source be with you!

5 km

Monday, May 11th, 2015

Monday, May 11th, 2015             
Hawking Hills, Ohio

Where We Like To Be


Akhila, my dear friend from Salem, Ohio, and Eklavya, origin New York City and I spent the greater part of the day in a van to get to this little paradise.  After what seemed like the long and winding road (the only Beatles song I never cared for), we finally made it to the area of Old Man’s Cave to settle into a cozy world class cabin.  A creek runs in front of this rustic place nestled in a cool and green deciduous forest. 

It was our full intention to hit trails, waterfalls, and cliffs, which are some of the features that the area is renowned for.  But a heavy storm set into the state of Ohio, and surrounding areas, which restricted our chances for wonderland adventure.  With high winds, rain, and high powered lightening, we were reminded of God’s greatness, and our meagerness – always a good message.

We spent the last hours of the day, preparing and eating a fine organic meal, with Eklavya juicing up Asparagus, celery and other greens; with Akhila toasting and I gathering dandelion leaves outside the cabin deck.  Our dessert was not orally taken, but through the ears.  I couldn’t help myself to reading aloud for the three of us segments of the book “Prabhupada” and of his early days in New York struggling along and alone, seemingly.

Actually, a monk is never alone, but conscious of the divinity all around him.  That is what is good about being in the forest, feeling the presence of the sublime energy and the sublime energetic Krishna.

It will be in three years time that Eklavya will be ordained as a full fledged monk, known as sannyasa, and spending some time in the quiet forest prepares oneself.  This place, Hawking Hills, is a good fit for him.

May the Source be with you!

1 km

Sunday, May 10th, 2015

Sunday, May 10th, 2015               
Moundsville, West Virginia
The Performance


Since Friday evening, we had been practicing for the drama, “Blue Mystic”.  I usually experience miracles through transcendental theatre projects such as this. 

A young man, Shaun, 18, from Toronto that was going to play the ‘Mystic’, Himself, just returned from a trip to India and came back with a serious ear infection.  The prospect of his playing the part fell through.  So, as my Hindu friends would say, “When there is a puzzle or a peril, ‘What to do?’”. 

Fortunately, I usually have in mind, some understudy or a backup person to depend on, just in case.  I am always looking, hunting you might say, for fresh talent.  On my last trip to Michigan, I met a young man named Jake, with a decent build and height.  With long, but well groomed hair, and with a kind of a boyish face.  He also told me that he has a martial arts background.  I had determined from my first meeting him that he has a good nature and is direct able.  In other words, he would be able to take directions quite well.  He agreed for the part.  And that is what I call a miracle.  And I didn’t have to look too hard.

Today was the day for our performance at the Palace Lodge at the New Vrindavan community.  Yadhunath and company from New York, had just completed their comedic and serious drama pieces which very much moved the audience.  Then our troupe came on.  Shortly thereafter, I announced my walk for September retracing the route our guru, Srila Prabhupada, took when he first arrived in America.

The lights went on.  “Lights”, “Camera”, (yes, someone was filming unofficially), and “Action”.  The actors did a near stellar performance (It’s never perfect, is it?).  The implementation of storm and star effects was well executed and so was the ballet by Balaram.  And there was a good fight at the end with the victor, Krishna, The Blue Mystic, inspiring and arousing the audience.

What I leaned – work hard, and for Krishna.

May the Source be with you!


5 km

Wednesday May 6th, 2015

Wednesday May 6th, 2015
Etobicoke, Ontario

Are We Man Enough To Take It?


After the crack of dawn I went by foot from Kipling to Rexdale heading west, then along Derry Rd. which seems to be a path to eternity. This takes me along Pearson Airport and finally to a crossroads where my host for the evening, Nimai, picks me up for the balance of the journey to the dental clinic to meet my appointment. I was going for a cleaning.

The dental assistant gave me an assessment that was pretty good as to my own personal maintenance of teeth. I even felt good having heard her compliments. But you know, there’s another level of diagnosis. When my dentist came to look into my mouth he was sterner in his assessment, which I guess was great for subduing the ego.

“Your brushing is still too aggressive.” And that he said with a truthful tone.

“Oh Krishna!” I thought. “Just when I thought I was doing rather well with regular brushing and flossing.” The photos taken of my inside reveal some increased recession of gums. You can’t argue with the camera unless there are some special effects being employed here. The dental assistant then gave me the advice (which has been done before) that I use my left hand for brushing as it will be executed with more caution. Good advice should always be taken as it is based on experience.

Now for life’s direction, the good suggestions, recommendations, whatever, are out there. It comes in form of what guru has to say. There’s also guru within, sometimes referred to as paramatma. We also have sastra, directions given in the form of ancient wisdom in textual format.

Our guru, Srila Prabhupada, has given us the mandate to avoid the consumption of meat, intoxicants, gambling and casual sex. All this is to provide protection from the influence of allurements which coax us to darker alleys of life.

Good advice is worth millions. You can’t put a price tag on it, to be factual. Generally it comes our way in its multiple forms, but are we man enough to take it? Bad and old habits die hard. May death be the sentence on such habits.

May the Source be with you!

14 km

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015
Toronto, Ontario

Trekking a Bit of the City


Today I felt like a more complete pilgrim after some administrative duties and lessons in the form of a class were delivered, when I trekked a bit of the city.  I was actually headed towards my dentist for an early morning tomorrow’s appointment.  Yes, I set out a day ahead and prepared myself for a stayover at a devotee’s home, which is midway to my dental destination. 

I had the pleasure to stop in at the six kilometre mark at the residence of a much revered person from our Toronto community.  It was a much needed visit for myself and this fine person whose devotion to Krishna and devotion to people has been sustained to a high level. 

I also found it interesting that before and after that impromptu visit, the interaction was what you might expect from people on a Tuesday afternoon in a large metropolis.  Most people are driven to ‘get somewhere’.  I’m referring to pedestrians as much as the motorists.  Motorists, you just can’t see through the tinted glass.  As far as I’m concerned, they are zoned out to the real world of outdoors. 

I’m sorry to say that about such car controllers.  I don’t envy you guys at all, and so far as pedestrians are concerned, I can see you, and I can try to make eye contact with you, I can say, ‘Hi’ or ‘Hare Krishna’ and feel good about the day and the world, only because you’re out in the open.  Unfortunately, most people choose looking at the whizzing traffic and/or maybe standing there all wired up living in an existence that is of the nature of ‘be-not-here-now’.  Humans, if I could declare it boldly, we really need to get back to family, farm, and God.

May the Source be with you!

14 km

May 4th, 2015

May 4th, 2015
Castleton, Ontario

Full Existence


I’ve checked out beaches at off season times, meaning, not in the summer, and so while in this area of  central eastern Ontario, we looked at Presquil.  Personally, I believe that this is a real gem of a place, for where in the world will you find so much mileage of sandy beach on fresh water.  That’s central Canada for you.  Having lived and been raised in the Great Lakes region, I find myself to be very fortunate to have been part of this natural treasure. 

Presquil Park and beach are located on a bay off of Lake Ontario.  According to Ernie, a local resident, it’s an area that juts out into the lake, creating its own unique ecosystem.   A small group of us looking for property prospects took a short break to go to Presquil and feel the sand under our feet.  Isn’t it grand – the beach, the water, openness.  I can hear kids play already in their summer fun.  Also, a real plus is fact that the water’s so clean with no salt and no sharks. 

While we checked out this tourist attraction with its expansive sandy beach, we actually spent quality time at a farm after a visit to the beach and a resort.  Winning a number one award for the most innovative farm in the province of Ontario is owner of a piece of land that grows Kale and then produces a snack out of it.  The Kale is soaked in a cashew substance, dried, and then packaged for a large market across North America.  Additionally the property has a barn and a yard full of family attractive farm animals. 

The couple looking after the animals are Fil and Sukhayanti.  Sheep, goats, chickens, cows, and a donkey are amongst community members of this amazing rural lot that make it so appealing.  I get a charge out of just holding and petting one of those kids (wee goats) in my arms. 

It came to my loathsome but sometime alert brain that in such an environment of land, plants, animals and healthy industrious people such as those young folks working at the small kale chip factory, and when you add the natural spirit of God consciousness, you then have the formula of a full existence.   This is along the lines of what our guru, Srila Prabhupada, was talking about.  This is the real way to live. 

May the Source be with you!


4 km

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015
Toronto, Ontario

We Cross the Street With…


From Montreal, Pradyumna and I detrained at Union Station in Toronto.  Once reaching the street level, we patiently waited for the red to turn green at the street light.  Two young women were also at the street light ready to do the same.  One of the girls, however, started to make a dash and got about one quarter of the way across when the second one called her back.  She did pull back.

I felt compelled to jump in with words, “You don’t want to go out there and turn out flat like a pizza, do you?”

The two girls who were quite facially garnished with makeup did start laughing.  The red light turned green and the four of us moved ahead with the two young women becoming curious.  The one asked, “What’s with the…?”  (Clothes, she was referring to.)

“They are robes, I’m a monk, a Krishna monk.” 

To that the young woman came back, “What’s a monk?” 

“One who leads a simple life…”

And she cut in, saying, “Well, I have a simple life, I’m telling you.”  I think she was referring to a meagre bank balance or a tight budget.  “Can I be a monk?”

“Yes, you can, but we might call you a nun.”

“Oh, I get it, it’s one name for the men and another for the women.”

I said, “Yes, indeed.  Please come and visit us sometime.  Here’s my card.  There’s a mantra on the other side.  If you like, you can try out being a nun for a weekend, stay with us, learn, and love (God).”

Our ride arrived.  Pradyumna and I made it to the vehicle and the driver, Keshava.  We bid farewell to our newly made friends, the happy cross the street girls. 

May the Source be with you!


1 km

Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

Saturday, May 2nd, 2015
Montreal, Quebec

The Day of the Lion


One young woman in particular wanted the experience of what’s called a mangal arati, a ceremony with chants and images at 4:30 AM.  She made the effort, on the will of her desire, she showed up all happy as a guest.  She was also keen to go on a morning walk with a bunch of us with destination the nearby botanical gardens, once again.  Besides ourselves there was only one human who came to share the space of shanti, calmness.  I guess he was out on his own meditation.  While sitting on a rock and chanting a quiet mantra (the gayatri), frogs were all around us as they tried to leap across our pathway.   Cardinal birds with a fire engine red colour landed on rocks nearby.  Who could blame them for being nosy, we are a curious sight – human beings in exotic attire of saris and dhotis, and who are chanting mantras

By afternoon, we made our way to Saint Catherine’s Street for more pleasure and duty which comes in the form of kirtan.  The streets were crowded.  We were just under 20 in number.  Outnumbered we were by the thousands there and who were on the hot pursuit for maya.  Some are tourists, and they, like everyone else, are caught up in the Saturday spirit of freedom in this dominant, plentiful city.  Generally you can tell who the tourists are, they have a slightly different air about them, an air of wonder.  With our chanting procession, we did our grand finale in front of one of those older, gorgeous cathedrals to be admired.  With the rule of time behind us, we were scheduled to be present at the Iskcon Centre on Pie IX Boulevard to honour the lion avatar, Narasingha, a big day on the Vaishnava calendar. 

I had received an email that came from a monk friend of mine, Krishna Kshetra Swami.  It was the first draft of a script, a conversation between Narasingha and ultimate demon, Hiranyakashipu.  Then Yves Prescott, another friend of mine, joined me in the dramatical reading of this very witty script.  It gave delight to the ears of the community and added a special flavour to the evening.  Everybody likes lions, especially this one. 

May the Source be with you!


10 km

Friday, May 1st, 2015

Friday, May 1st, 2015
Montreal, Quebec

Creatures Sly and Beautiful


The fox was staring at us, but only for seconds.  He stood there and then moved.  Naturally, he wasn’t going to share with us what was in his mouth.  He worked hard to get that squirrel in between his jaws.  Poor squirrel wasn’t moving, his life force was gone.  He was ready to transfer to a new body, leaving the current one for someone’s breakfast. 

Three monks and I spotted more fox in the Botanical Gardens in and around Le Jardin de Chine.  It was after dawn and the red hunters with the flowy tails were out on the prowl.  For years I’ve heard this amazing creature gekkering, barking, calling, and then doing something called vixen screaming.  The fox is so diverse in making sounds, yet this morning, the ones we spotted were absolutely silent. 

Noise of the weekend began to drum up as afternoon rolled out.  The same team of monks who spotted fox in the morning were now on Saint Catherine’s street to deliver the mantras to the foxy ladies and the foxy people in general (I was one of those monks).  “Foxy” as I understand it, and as Jimmy Hendrix used it in his favourite song, refers to sly ad beautiful.  Yes, we were noticing that people were milling up and down the street, some for socializing, going for a drink or shopping.  Some were dressed to kill, in a way – hunting. 

I felt that we were doing our job out there on our favourite activity – harinam sankirtan (chanting in public).  The public was really loving it.  People joined us in singing and some doing a jig.  One fellow, however, gawked at us, stopped for a few seconds to give a good stare, analyzed us, and then went in another direction.  He behaved just like the fox with the squirrel. 

May the Source be with you!

12 km

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015
Toronto, Ontario

Two Worlds


I trekked through Rosedale on this perfect day.  Everyone is out, feeling the same way – enthused.  People in their convertibles with the tops down are in ecstasy.  Runners hit every piece of pavement with hot feet, and then the cyclists breeze by as if there was no stopping them.  Birds also enjoy a kind of freedom that only they know.  As for other living entities, it’s a burst or explosion of colour or smell.  Signs of spring.

While all seems fine within my purview, in another part of the world, in earthquaked Nepal, people are undergoing an anguish of such incredible magnitude, hard to conceive.  Death.  Buildings crumbled.  Piles of bodies.  Homelessness.  Family members displaced.  People trapped under debris.  Injuries.  Lack of food and water.  Disease.  Lack of sleep.  Inability to access or assist. 

The world is praying for their release.  Food supplies and human basics are attempting to make their way to victims.  There is lots of confusion.  Nothing is easy to remedy or fix.  It will take not days, but months before everything normalizes.  This is tragic. 

What a paradox – my world and the one just described.  As bhakti yogis, it is not out of line for us to chant mantras on behalf of victims of this tragedy.  We can’t be too insensitive and say, “That’s their karma,” and leave it at that.  Let us not be so quick to judge or to pass judgment in such situations.  The immediate response to any calamity requires speedy and helpful aid.

May the Source be with you!


6 km

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015
Toronto, Ontario

People in the Park


We had a lovely lunch in Cabbage Town at the home of pujaris (priests).  Rupa and Sanatan Goswamis are the proprietors at their haven of a home.  It is walkable from our ashram.  It’s 18 degrees Celsius, it’s sunny – yes!  And so, to and fro, I took to my feet, or rather, they took me. 

To reach Cabbage Town, you go through an interesting neighbourhood.  Once a heavy drinking area, the now quiet colonial buildings are attracting young professionals.  Down Parliament Street you’ll find antique shops and more of the regular convenience and grocery stores, and even one block of Tamil shops which cater to the Sri Lankan community. 

I passed by a bus stop cubicle and two obvious alcoholics who sat inside, upon seeing me, got really excited. 

“Heeeyyy!” Both simultaneously shouted out the one syllable perfectly, and they were loud.  Heads turned to see what was up.  They got the thrill of their day.

Nothing related to this mild incident, but minutes later, two young women were walking and conversing, and as they passed by, I heard one say to the other, “What goes around comes around.”  Whenever I hear this phrase I clearly see it as an accepted phenomenon.  The endorsement of transmigration of the soul, or reincarnation.  And as I think about this concept, I look at the different people I pass by.  Some look rather disheveled and bent over, and some walk upright, dressed with confidence.  We all have our own individual destinies.  Our souls all travel with different karma behind us. 

After the great lunch and my return to the ashram, I walked through the park, it is directly north of our ashram.  It’s newly renovated and on the inscription along the sidewalk there reads an excerpt from a poem  by J. McPherson.  She was a well known Canadian poet that lived in our neighbourhood.  Right close to the maple tree planted in honour of our guru, Srila Prabhupada, reads this stanza:

The world was first a private park
Until the angel after dark
Scattered afar to wests and easts
The lovers and the friendly beasts

May the Source be with you!


8 km

Monday, April 27th, 2015

Monday, April 27th, 2015
Brampton, Ontario

Sita’s Birthday


Today is the birthday of Sri Sita Devi, the consort and goddess of Ram.  Knowing this, I received an extra inward boost as I have so much reverence towards such a loyal personality as Sita.  Her devotion is unswerving, endless, a clear reflection of the soul in the eternal world.  I guess that’s one of the reasons why I relish directing and producing the plays from the epics like the Ramayan.  It is, from this great book, that I learn to admire such extraordinary people – mortals, celestials and avatars, who carry such a high demeanour of character.  Because of the productions I feel a growing closeness towards the personalities who demonstrate inspirational fortitude. 

While passing the morning hours still in DC, the USA, I did venture a short while with comrade, Dhruva, along a Potomac trail by big mansions and finely maintained golf courses. 

My second installment for the day for walking was in the burbs of Brampton in a less green ravine, yet promising to be so in a matter of days.  It is spring, and even in this more northern section of North America, you can see, smell, and feel the incremental spring coming on.

My evening was blessed by converging with some of our resident devotees from our downtown ashram.  The place was in the home of Sanjaya, a fairly newly married young man from our community.  Here we chanted and feasted.  I cannot keep in my memory the name of his good wife.  Every day I meet new folks, names start stacking up, but I try.  I could not remember the name of their young one either, a pet dog actually.  I do wish the couple well, and as for all couples that are well situated with good communication abilities who are principled and are financially okay, I bless that they will have lots of kids, kids who will learn about Sita Devi. 

May the Source be with you!

7 km

Friday, April 24th, 2015

Friday, April 24th, 2015
Ann Arbor, Michigan

At Ann Arbor


We went on an outing (when am I not?) to Ann Arbor, the University town.  Our intent to engage in some singing by the park and the heart of student campus life.  The group of us from Ypsilanti, headed by an outstanding American, Dev Madhava, took to chanting at a period in the semester when exams are in session. 

With exams in the forefront of everyone’s mind, there’s no wonder I felt a bit of glumness in the air, if not feeling their tension despite the glowing sun filled day.  At least, I would like to think that our chanting party which was stoic in one spot, and then moving about the campus the rest of the time, was simply there to cheer up the atmosphere in some way.  Perhaps the maha mantra that we were chanting could be interpreted as a mark of auspicious or a brain stimulator. 

Actually, someone in the crowd at the campus demonstrated a minus in the grim department.  His name is Pete, and he had come to join us in what I would call our cute dance skip, as we made our way along the campus grounds. 

Pete had picked up on our spirit, in fact, at first glance at him, I would call him a free spirit.  His hair of ponytail style was bunned up and his printed hoodie gave a semblance of someone who’s a type of backpacker.  Here’s a sort of a giveaway – when he joined us he was a slight bulge eyed and happy as he pulled out a small pair of Buddhist hand cymbals which he began to play. 

Honestly, Pete so much enjoyed being with us that he decided to stay with and even drive with us in the evening to Farmington, for I was to conduct a seminar on kirtan standards.

To Pete, I wish him the best, hoping he’ll never leave the company of Krishna spiritualists. 

May the Source be with you!


6 km

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015
Canton, Michigan

A Wedding


Most people like to be at a good wedding for the bride looks gorgeous and the groom is handsome, and where it’s a feel good situation, and where parents from both parties are in attendance.  That’s what it was like today, in matrimony of Vitaliy and Ananda Rupa.  Oops!  I forgot to mention about the fabulous feast at the end. 

The priest, Jambavan, had his mighty army of four of his eight kids to assist him in the samskar, or sacrament, which entails a glorious fire emerging from the sacred pit.  There was his speech and mine.  I chose to quote from the Gita, 18.5, “Acts of sacrifice, charity and penance, are not to be given up; they must be performed, indeed, sacrifice, charity and penance purify even the great souls.”  It was also requested to speak after the wedding feast was over, but my thought was, “No, we’re going to sing and dance,” that’s what we did. 

The event took place in the Hindu temple in Canton, a great facility.  What I found most interesting was meeting a younger man in the WC area who had a profound interest in monastic life. 

“So, you’ve been a monk for how long?”

“42 years,” I said. 

“What do you do about the sex urge?”

I said, “Get busy, such as pick up a drum and beat it and chant like crazy.”

“How long does the urge stay in a person’s life?”

“It should diminish in time as you mature in years.”

The fellow had a slew of questions to follow.  I asked him if celibacy was an omission of his, and he remarked that he’s been contemplating it for some time.  I assured him that the key principle to follow was  a focus on superior engagement, “Let there be determination and a concentration on devotional service, and as long as that keep you enriched and fulfilled, nothing like the fleeting urges of lust can swerve you from the prime function.”

May the Source be with you!


4 km

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015
Toronto, Ontario

Three Together


I have for some time been anticipating the visit of two cross-Canada walkers.  Dana Miece has covered 20,000 km on foot on the trans-Canada trail, and Michael Oesch had done the stretch from Toronto to Newfoundland and back, and then Toronto to the west coast.  Both of these gentlemen I consider my heroes, and I believe it works totally mutual in admiration amongst the three of us.  Dana’s walking sponsor had kept him happily detained for our agreed upon first ever gathering, which was lunch at Govinda’s restaurant in our ashram.  We had a brief sit down for a light lunch, our little trio had the chance to share some of our individual trials and triumphs on the road. 

One thing that really took me by surprise about us, on first impression, is that none of us, whether it be Michael, Dana, or myself, appear physically slim or trim.  I’m not saying we are out of shape either, but for serious marathon walkers, you might expect for us all to have a little bit closer to a Hanuman look. 

Due to the shortage of time, we did not delve into spiritual topics, although, I know Michael to be spiritual, and to have been deeply transformed from his sojourn.  He personally told me in the past that his long trek across Canada was a real purger.  And Dana, well, I only know of him when we spoke over the phone on a few occasions, once shortly after he was hospitalized for having contracted what’s called Beaver Fever.  My knowing him is more limited, although upon meeting him, I felt an instant camaraderie, and even at our first conversation.  Treading a long trail is known by few, so when a group of guys get together who have done just that, they reach common ground. 

It was a short but sweet union of sorts, and we expect another get together before Dana returns to his walking or whatever.  It was the day’s highlight for me.

May the Source be with you!


3 km

Monday, April 20th, 2015

Monday, April 20th, 2015
Regina, Saskatchewan

Collective Love


While waiting for my flight at the Regina Airport, a woman approached me and asked if I was a monk.  I told her of the Krishna conscious order I belong to as she initially mistook me for a Buddhist. 

“Oh, yes, I used to see you guys all the time in Vancouver,” she said, and then leaned over closer and in almost a whisper, said, “there’s too many Christians around here.”  She alluded to the fact that Christians are not her favourite people.  She has a right to her own opinion, of course.  She was actually very kind to me, and just wanted to talk to me like anything about animals being protected. 

I told her of one of the names of Krishna, Gopal, it means ‘one who is a friend to the animals, especially the cow’.

“Oh, and I guess the pigs and chickens as well?”

“Yes, of course.”

She went about her way and then I began to chant on my beads.  I was actually still waiting for my flight when a gentleman came up to me.  I had actually dozed off a bit from fatigue, not enough rest from the night before. 

“I’m sorry to wake you, but I just wanted to say that God loves you.”  Now, I was already aware of you, about the love factor, but it’s good to be reminded.  He went on a bit about Jesus and his loving side.  Frankly, I know about this, so my response was, “Jesus loves you too!” I reassured him.  I don’t think he expected that remark from me.  It seemed to even throw him off.  The gentleman then returned to his far distant seat.

I know that Krishna loves me, He’s been looking after me for some time.  If more people say, and above all, demonstrate their love, whether it be coming from Jesus or a lady or a man at the airport, and of course, Krishna, all collectively come together, we would be living in a better world. 

May the Source be with you!


5 km

Sunday, April 19th, 2015

Sunday, April 19th, 2015
Regina, Saskatchewan

Forwardness

Often, for me, the most reflective or introspective times occur during that brief or long walk.  While Kasyapa was pumping gas to fuel our vehicle en route to Regina on Highway 11, I put in a request to walk.  There was an extra kilometre I gained for distance sake and for thought.  The thoughts projected me into the future, the not so far future.  And in that short span of time some flashbacking to the past took place.  I, no doubt, had to address the ‘in the moment’, while watching my steps over dry and sleepy grass that was ready to turn over for the spring to come up. 

One thought replaces another just as one foot comes down to replace the former.  In this way life rolls on with every physical move and every mental thought.  I always anticipate that with every move forward there will be forward thinking to accompany it.

The Iskcon centre in Regina on Retallick Street is interesting.  The interior reminds me of my mental status at times.  There’s a new floor, but upon it rests furniture that is mismatched, and walls are overdone with pictures and images, although they are sacred.  It looked cluttered.  The attendance of worshipers and meditators was average in number.  They were sweet people and one girl had come to honour her birthday event sponsored  by her dad.

I was given a full hour to speak on a conclusive verse from the Gita, verse 18.66, wherein we are all advised to surrender to the absolute power.  The prasadam (consecrated food) was totally divine.  As we relished the Sunday Feast which is known the world over in Iskcon centres, the dhal (lentil spiced soup) was from another realm.

It was post feast time when I took to Albert Street for one last walking installment for the day.  I was with a person who I felt was moving forward in not only foot movement, but in thought.  There was some confession of sorts, confusion, and pain expressed, but in the course of our stepping forward, I believe, some hope and resolve was on this particular soul’s horizon. 

May the Source be with you!

8 km